Regular readers may recall a YouGov poll of Welsh voting intentions back in July for Roger Scully’s elections in Wales site. It produced some rather strange results – not least because it had Labour at 46% in the Welsh Assembly constituency vote (perfectly reasonable), but only 25% in the Assembly regional vote, which seemed implausible. In 2011 Labour’s vote was 5 points lower in the regional vote, but 21 points lower seems extremely unlikely. This had happened several times in YouGov’s Welsh polls in the last couple of years, apparently starting since YouGov changed their blurb at the start of Welsh polls in 2012. The suggestion was that people who might not be too familiar with the voting system were misinterpreting the question, and instead of giving a regional vote, were giving a second preference.
Anyway, as Roger explains here, YouGov did a bit of testing to find out. Using a three-way split sample they tested three different wordings. The first was the wording that YouGov used to use pre-2012:
“If there were an election to the National Assembly for Wales tomorrow, and thinking about the constituency vote, how would you vote? And thinking about the regional or party vote for the National Assembly for Wales, which party list would you vote for?”
The second was the wording YouGov have been using since 2012 – note the phrase “your second vote” in there:
“In elections to the National Assembly for Wales you have two votes. One is for an individual member of the Assembly – or AM – for your constituency. The second is for a party list for your region. If there were a National Assembly for Wales election tomorrow, which party would you vote for in your constituency? Now thinking about your second vote, for a party list in your region, which party would you vote for?”
The third group got some new wording, very similar to the current one, but taking away the words “second vote”:
“In elections to the National Assembly for Wales you have two votes. One is for an individual member of the Assembly – or AM – for your constituency. The second is for a party list for your region. If there were a National Assembly for Wales election tomorrow, which party would you vote for in your constituency? Now thinking about the regional or party vote for the National Assembly for Wales, which party list would you vote for?”
As you’d expect, the different wordings made virtually no difference to how people answered the constituency vote question, but it made a massive difference to how people answered the regional vote question:
Old wording (no explanation)- CON 18%, LAB 39%, LDEM 4%, PC 21%, UKIP 9%
Current wording (“second vote”) – CON 16%, LAB 19%, LDEM 8%, PC 24%, UKIP 20%
New wording (“regional vote”) – CON 18%, LAB 35%, LDEM 5%, PC 21%, UKIP 14%
Using the current “second vote” wording there was once again an implausible 19 point difference between Labour’s constituency and regional vote. Using the old wording, or the new wording that takes away the phrase “second vote” the gap between Labour’s constituency and regional vote becomes a far more realistic 3 to 5 points. Going forward, YouGov will be using the new wording, using the words “regional or party vote”, rather than “second vote”.
Note, for the record, that these figures aren’t comparable to normal Welsh polls for sampling reasons (basically a proper Welsh poll will have a sample targeted at Welsh demographics, this was all about the comparisons, so it just went to a big lump of Welsh respondents, split three ways).